Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Seeing the Future in the Past: Chapter 2

Chapter Two – The Church Ministry in the United States -The Conditions at the Turn of the 20th Century

How did the relationship of the church to the world become so injurious to the Christian? What brought about this adversarial role of the world to the church? The answer to this is both theological and practical. The church was always been afforded wide latitude because of its role in the world, but even this tolerance by the predominantly secular world is stretched to breaking.
Theological Answer
There has always been an adversarial role for the people of God to the world system. Jesus made this relationship very apparent.

John 15:17-19
17 These things I command you, that ye love one another.
18 If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you.
19 If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you. (KJV)

Only the unwise view the world in any other clear role. However, we do not need to excite this opposition either. Also the believers must divorce the non-believer in Christ from the world system which Jesus describes. The non-believer may not hate us except he is compelled to do so by the world system or our foolishness. The wise Christian knows the difference between the general unbeliever and the world system.

In order to live in this world we must realize that two things brought about the animosity of which our Lord spoke. The first reason given by our Lord was his words, which brought knowledge of personal and corporate sin; thus crushing the unbeliever’s sense of well-being before God. As long as the people of God insist on exposing men to God the Father through their words or preaching as we call it, there will always be an adversarial role.

John 15:22
22 If I had not come and spoken unto them, they had not had sin: but now they have no cloke for their sin. (KJV)

The second explanation that Jesus gives for this adversarial role is our works.

John 15:24
24 If I had not done among them the works which none other man did, they had not had sin: but now have they both seen and hated both me and my Father. (KJV)

The Christian must recognize that there is a two fold ministry which the people of God or the church must employee. We must always do the works of God and preach the message of God. Our works exposes man to his sinful condition, and the gospel is directly complemented. Knowledge of sin through the righteous works of God or His people is an overwhelming power, exposing man’s sinfulness by comparing his works to the true works of God.

These works must be accompanied by our words also. It is not enough to live right or do good works in front men; there must be the confrontation of the unbeliever by a verbal presentation of the Gospel.

The works verify who we are and expose the world for their unjustified hatred because our works are good. It is completely improper to hate people for being good. It is also improper not to listen to our words if our works are good. If our works are good, our word ought to be heeded.

John 15:25
25 But this cometh to pass, that the word might be fulfilled that is written in their law, They hated me without a cause. (KJV)

Thus, although unjustified, the world-entrenched un-believers do resent the church. The world longs to throw-off the yoke of the church’s presentation of God’s word and works. This continuing catharsis is founded in the conviction of God’s presence and the world’s sin through the preaching and works of the church.

In order to understand this animosity we must know the enemy that we are fighting. It is a system that has grown more powerful with each phase of man’s earthly development. This system was well and alive at the time of the flood and after. It has grown back after being arrested by the flood because of its corrupting influence on mankind – the more corrupt the system is; the more man patronizes it. It has gone from the agrarian, city-state age to the industrial age – burgeoning city, and now we are in the age of technology – great metropolis. As the world has changed it has become more sophisticated in its sin, its deception, its arrogance, its headlong-dash to destruction, and its hatred of the people of God.

Practical Answer
The world has accelerated greatly the change over the last 200 years. As a hostile world developed technology, theology, communications, science, education, economics, morals and social values have exploded into a convoluted conundrum. This developed world of the last 100 years is reminiscent of the world, which existed at the turn of the last century, a world which the inventions of man are creative mind challenge the very concept of God.

At the turn of the 20th Century, the automobile was hurdling across the country at a speed of 40 miles per hour. The locomotive was spanning the great continents of the world. The airplane was gradually reaching higher heights with longer fights. The steamships were crossing the Atlantic in record time, and shortly, the largest ship in the world would be plying the waters of the Atlantic, the Titanic.

World’s Fairs were telling people of a wonderful, new world of unbelievable wealth, technology, and health. This new world would be liberated from the specter of sin; or strictly speaking, it would be a utopia, without sickness, poverty, suffering, or man’s vices. History is replete with the examples of these utopia feelings at the turn of the century.

The Paris Universal Exposition captured the attention of the entire modern world in 1900. Over 57 million visitors from all over the globe came to see thousands of exhibits displayed by nearly every nation on earth. Three regiments of French infantry and 11 companies of engineers had transformed the Champs de Mars from a littered, muddy wasteland into an array of manicured lawns and colorful flower beds. While the wonders of the present were displayed and praised, much of the Exposition was devoted to extolling those marvels that awaited mankind in the future. As a tribute to technology and progress, the Paris Exposition was like nothing that had come before it. Visitors marveled at moving sidewalks, wireless telegraphy, the most powerful telescope ever built, and the first escalator ever seen. American innovation and boosterism was evident everywhere. One English writer described the Exposition as "the Americanization of the world." (From 1999 PBS online/WBGH)

The scientific community of the late 1800s developed new and startling discoveries in health care, communications, and research. Vaccines, medical equipment, and new treatment techniques were rapidly changing the way man viewed dependence upon God for health and daily strength. The telegraph and telephone were shrinking the world projecting the impact of communications on the future. Companies were on the verge of uniting the world by a strand of wire, and some were even introducing wireless communications.

By the turn of the 20th Century (1900’s), the world was ready to explode with its own self-worth. This change was documented by history as evidenced by this article.

As the 19th century came to a close, prominent figures and institutions offered up their assessments as to how it would best be remembered and predicted what the 20th century held in store.

Comparing 1900 to 1800, Americans were reminded that at the beginning of the 19th century there were no railroads, telegraphs, steamboats, electricity, kerosene, telephones, reapers, plumbing, or photography. The world had changed more over those 100 years than ever before. And change was happening at such a rate as to make many people uneasy. Historians speak of people being made to feel small in the face of systems that confounded their intelligence. Opinion varied as to what the most beneficial legacy of the 19th century would be. The Reverend Newell Dwight Hillis delighted in observing that "for the first time government, invention, art, industry, and religion have served all the people rather than the patrician classes." Elihu Root was certain the finest achievement of the century had been the discovery of the process for making Bessemer steel. The Indianapolis Journal opined, "No single feature of 19th century progress has been more remarkable or more significant of advancing civilization than the improvement in the condition of the working classes." (From 1999 PBS online/WBGH)

The attitude of the world at that time was one of complete self-satisfaction of having discovered all that science would ever discover. They thought themselves to be completely exhaustive in their knowledge. This attitude developed the arrogance of the new world which the church would face. We see this in Bill Bryson’s book, A Short History of Nearly Everything. On page 115 Bryson wrote the following.

As the Nineteenth Century drew to a close, scientists could reflect with satisfaction that they had pinned down most of the mysteries of the physical world: electricity, magnetism, gases, optics, acoustics, kinetics, and statistical mechanics, to name just a few, all had fallen into order before them. They had discovered the X ray, the cathode ray, the electron, and radioactivity , invented the ohm, the watt, the Kelvin, the joule, the amp, and the little erg.

If a thing could be oscillated, accelerated, perturbed, distilled, combined, weighed, or made gaseous they had done it, and in the process produced a body of universal laws so weighty and majestic that we still tend to write them out in capital letters: the Electromagnetic Field Theory of Light, Richter’s Law of Reciprocal Proportions, Charles’s Law of Gases, the Law Combining Volumes, the Zeroth Law, the Valence Concept, the Laws of Mass Actions, and others beyond counting. The whole world clanged and chuffed with the machinery and instruments that their ingenuity had produced. Many wise people believed that there was nothing much left for science to do.

The most striking new scientific theory ever proposed by man, Darwinian Evolution, was being discussed and debated, and the scientific world was eager to break the shackles of religion. Darwin in 1859 produced such an opportunity. His book, Origin of the Species, based upon the concept of comparative anatomy, natural selection, and acquired characteristics offered a theory of science apart from a need for special creation. His observations, which were totally unscientific and unprovable, would become the cornerstone of all science within 100 years from the publishing of his book. This would unleash the nature of man freed from his creator. But what had Darwin unleash?

The Washington Post at the turn of the 20th century lamented that the sin of man still existed in spite of the great inventions and developing scientific advancements. Obviously, they knew what we refuse to acknowledge; man with all his potential for greatness is predisposed to sin.

The Washington Post cautioned that despite "all our progress of luxury and knowledge...we have not been lifted by so much as a fraction of an inch above the level of the darkest ages... The last 100 years have wrought no change in the passions, the cruelties, and the barbarous impulses from the savagery of the Middle Ages. We enter a new century equipped with every wonderful device of science and art...(but) the pirate, the savage, and the tyrant still survives." (From 1999 PBS online/WBGH)

It would be easy to read these words and to think that they were written for the turn of the 21st Century and not the 20th Century. Paul the Apostle wrote a similar opine with this damning message of man’s arrogance toward the Creator God.

Rom 1:18-32
18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness;
19 Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them.
20 For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:
21 Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened.
22 Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools,
23 And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things.
24 Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves:
25 Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen.
26 For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature:
27 And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet.
28 And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient;
29 Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers,
30 Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents,
31 Without understanding, covenantbreakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful:
32 Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them. (KJV)

The origin of the world was being examined not in the light of faith, but through the eyes of skepticism fueled by a sense of euphoria over man’s new found knowledge and proposed abilities. The colleges of the world were beginning to develop a socialistic and humanistic bent that would soon reach the schools of America producing new progressive methods of education.

The science world was beginning to flex its ability to hypothesize and go from scientific fact to scientific theory. Now, our pride would push to believe that our theories were just as true as our proven facts.

The world of psychology was explaining man apart from sin in new terms such as psychosis and jealousy. The result of such humanistic triumphs on the fragile vanity of man was a strong skepticism and raw unbelief displayed in the education arenas of the United States, England, and developed European nations.

So strong was this vanity that many in fundamentalism, shortly after the turn of the century, thought it necessary to hold conferences and conventions to offer opposition and answers. They defined the tenets of Biblical truth that became the fundamentals or core beliefs. The hope of the councils was to unify true Bible believing people, to counter the threats of the modern day unbelief, which was real, powerful, and gaining in organization and momentum. Unfortunately, words on paper and pronouncements by councils, although good, would not be enough to answer the soon to be seen giants of unbelief. We are in great danger of doing the same thing again at the beginning of the Twenty-first Century.

Standing in the way of greater developments of strategy to fight these giants was the church’s vanity. The church’s vanity was almost equal to that of the world as the church thought that its control of the developed world would always remain strong because the world would always be intimidated. The church did not foresee the drastic change in thinking which the world would embrace because of the happenings at the turn of the 20th Century.

The preachers at the turn of the 20th Century and down through the century saw the slumbering giant of man’s vanity and unbelief rise to life as a Goliath. They witnessed the giants of man’s unbelief, agnosticism, and vanities at the beginning of the 1900’s in developed nations begin to push Christianity into a small cubical existence. The Church in the developed nations experienced the first vocal, vituperate, intellectual opposition causing the silent Church. And all this began at the beginning of the 20th Century.

The 21st Century is not different, except that possibly the world is even more convinced of its own prowess and exultant over its discoveries and developments. The Christian must realize that scientists believe that their ability to explain and harness the elements of the universe and develop technology will be the hope of mankind for the future. The psychologist believes that his assessments of man’s psyche will lead man from the dark ages of dependence upon God to an era of enlightened freedom from the repression of religious guilt for his aberrations, or simply put his deviations from what is noble, righteous, or good. All these self-appointed justifiers of man’s condition believe themselves to be intellectual Messiahs ready to usher-in a millennia of genetically enhanced, socially correct, psychologically-whole, designed humans.

Their command of technologies and drug therapy will be the tools of this creation. This view of their abilities is made very clear by an article on the internet concerning the importance of science at the turn of the 21st Century.

''LONDON (Sept. 1, 2000) - Scientists will probe the mysteries of the mind and explain the wonders of biotechnology next week during what is billed as Britain's biggest science and arts festival since the Great Exhibition of 1851.
The annual British Association for the Advancement of Science conference will kick off the 24-day event, which will include scientific research, mass participation experiments, debates, concerts and workshops.

To mark the millennium, the BA's yearly conference is being held in London for only the second time in its 164-year history. It will be fused with the arts to show how scientists and artists will shape the future.

Lord Oxborough, the rector of Imperial College London, described the Creating SPARKS festival from September 6-30 as the largest since millions of visitors flocked to the British capital for the Great Exhibition 150 years ago.

The message of this festival is that at no time in civilization has civilization been more dependent on science than it is today,'' he told a news conference.

About 400 scientists will present research on topics from how volcanoes work and the science of aging to how the worldwide web was born, organizers said.

''Shaping the future is the key theme (of the festival),'' British geneticist Sir Walter Bodner said.

Britain's Princess Anne, daughter of Queen Elizabeth and president of the association, will open the festival on Wednesday.

During the event, the public will be asked to take part in large-scale experiments looking at short-term memory, right- and left-hand preferences and the 37 species of woodlouse in Britain.

Dr. Richard Wiseman, of the University of Hertfordshire, hopes to test the memory of 3,000 people with a touch-sensitive machine about the size of a phone booth that will record how well people remember patterns and pairs.

Technophobes need not worry.

''It's extremely simple,'' he said.”

Reut12:43 09-01-00
The arrogance of the developed world demonstrated in this article is very revealing as to the attitude of this new century. To the Christian it is an alarming arrogance. The article clearly demonstrates a satirical elitism by the reference to “Technophobes”. It is very obvious that all who oppose their efforts are “Technophobes.” The statement is a gross misrepresentation of the Christian who is in favor of technology but opposed to the philosophical interpretations that have no true scientific evidence. None-the-less, those who seek simplification rather than diversification for the well-being of man will always be labeled with labels such as “Technophobes”.

Dr. Wiseman is demonstrating the condescending spirit of a world that is proud of its complex developments and its disdain for the simple explanation. The simplicity of the solutions in the Christian’s world is centered on God in Jesus Christ. For the Christian the solution to man’s ills are found in the simplicity of the gospel which changes the heart and eventually the life. The elite educated of this developed world find their value in complexity. In order to be needed, they must create a complex world that will not allow simple explanations. They devise schemes which grow in complexity impacting all disciplines. This matter of the simple and the complex is the crux of the on-going conflict.

The church, instead of simplifying, is embracing complexity of belief. The church by it schemes to win people – very elaborate or time oriented – engages culture rather than need, or attempts to understand people rather than helping people understand God and themselves as God made them. We get answers for the blade when the root is the problem. The church is attempting to change culture or work through culture when we must use the simple formula of preaching the gospel to change people. Culture is misleading and complicated. The church is searching to change the culture before changing the heart. We now preach the Bible as a psychology book, a financial planner, or a domestic bliss manual.

Man’s solutions are great and complicated as well. When Look at the ineffectiveness, unfairness, and complexity of human government. God’s plans are simple because he knows men’s hearts. The need is salvation not homogenization of culture. We are becoming Christian-hyphens (Christian-Buddhists, Christian-Hinduist, etc). We are forsaking preaching and embracing unbelievable substitutes which are intended to change men through knowledge rather than through the transformation of the soul. We have the cart before the horse. We want to win them through the discipleship of the Bible teachings appealing to their reason and understanding. We have forgotten is darkened and cannot receive the things of the Spirit.

In previous days, magicians fooled the people by allusion and the demand for respect for their person and powers. Today, we have the same magicians, but their bag of tricks has changed. They now overwhelm us with discoveries of natural phenomena, biological discoveries, origin theories, and psychological developments. However, the results are the same. They demand that we hold them in special consideration, and believe their words because they multiply information regardless of truth. With this comes complexity and confusion.

If the snake-oil salesman says his product produces results that are felonious, we call him a charlatan. When a scientist explains a natural element of science and uses this to convince us of a fairy tale which is not even based upon their scientific fact, he is a charlatan. This is true of the preacher who uses the Bible to entice and disciple the unregenerate mind. The worldly side of this misrepresentation is illustrated by an article written by Philip Bell a writer with Answers in Genesis in the United Kingdom on May 19, 2003. Phil Bell writes concerning the following.

A correspondent to the UK’s leading newspaper for teachers at all levels—the Times Educational Supplement (TES)—recently pointed out the dangers of presenting evolution as fact, drawing a fascinating response from James Williams, the PGCE programme leader at the University of Sussex, Brighton.

In his letter, Mr Williams rues what he sees as a failing of the current National Curriculum for science in England and Wales, namely that it ‘marginalizes this central tenet of biology [evolution] to such an extent that success in achieving the highest grades [in high school exams] can come with little or no study of this important scientific principle.’ He goes on to make some very telling admissions:

Examples of evolution used in textbooks are flawed and in need of radical updating. Our teaching of evolution is poor ….

The solution, he says, is not to teach students belief in evolution but rather to get them to accept it. Apparently there is a fundamental difference here: ‘There needs to be acceptance of, not belief in, evolution taught in school science.’ Confused? He goes on to explain that teachers should ‘Teach acceptance of evolution in school science and belief in creation in religious studies’ (emphasis added)….

The science teachers and scientists are bolder than ever to admit the inherent weaknesses of pseudo-science, but they still insist that it be accepted because it is more believable than the Biblical world model.

Recently, the originator of the seeker sensitive view of reaching people with the message of God, admitted that his method had failed, but many still plow along as though it is very effective. Even in the ministry it is easy to say believe me because I conceive and preach it; not because it is truth.

The science world mixes philosophy and imagination constantly. Although it is not wrong to use imagination; it is wrong to hoodwink a culture by mixing science and imagination. To the scientist, Harry Potter’s creator is the source of encouragement, truth, and prophecy, in fact, the more far-reaching the more believable, such as invisibility.

Invisibility Cloak May Be Possible
WASHINGTON (May 25, 2006) - Imagine an invisibility cloak that works just like the one Harry Potter inherited from his father.

Researchers in England and the United States think they know how to do that. They are laying out the blueprint and calling for help in developing the exotic materials needed to build a cloak.

The keys are special manmade materials, unlike any in nature or the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. These materials are intended to steer light and other forms of electromagnetic radiation around an object, rendering it as invisible as something tucked into a hole in space.

"Is it science fiction? Well, it's theory and that already is not science fiction. It's theoretically possible to do all these Harry Potter things, but what's standing in the way is our engineering capabilities," said John Pendry, a physicist at the Imperial College London.

Copyright 2006 The Associated Press. The information contained in the AP news report may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or otherwise distributed without the prior written authority of The Associated Press. All active hyperlinks have been inserted by AOL.

This writing leaves open the possibility of invisibility as though it is imminent in scientific possibilities.

Likewise, imagination is touted as essential for future understanding of the Bible. In a popular book on heaven, we are told that we must use our imaginations along with scripture to get the full impact of scriptural teaching. Our unashamed admission of this is beyond acceptance. The truth of God’s word is never enhanced by our imagination. It is the truth of God settled forever in heaven apart from our imaginations.

Scientific development can not be science for the sake of finding truth, but it must prove something new about the unknown such as the origin of man, economic status, social status, educational status, or moral status of man. Although the scientific discovery does not prove the truthfulness of their philosophical views, they insist on proposing it. This type of complexity sometimes does not even need scientific discovery as illustrated in the following.

Are Humans Furless to Thwart Parasites?

(John Pickrell in England for National Geographic News June 17, 2003)

Humans are unique among primates for our near-total bodily hairlessness. In fact, only a handful of the 5,000 or so mammals—mostly semi-aquatic species such as whales, walruses, and hippopotamuses—are not covered in dense fur.

Now, a controversial new theory suggests that human hairlessness evolved as a strategy to shed the ticks, lice, fleas, and other parasites that nestle deep in fur.

Unique human cultural adaptations such as the use of fire, shelter, and clothing allowed ancient humans the luxury of ditching their insulating hairy layer, says the study soon to appear in print in the journal Biology Letters.

"One of the most unusual things about humans is that we don't have fur," said study co-author Mark Pagel, evolutionary biologist at Reading University in England. Though humans are not literally hairless, much of our hair has become so small and fine as to render it virtually invisible. (National Geographic Website)

This diversity and complexity causing confusion is touted by the ideological world as good, healthy, even essential; yet the practical world is being destroyed by the confusion of absurdity. The total absurdity of believing that the human body is not covered by hair due to its aversion to parasites would be a thing of humor, if it were not presented by intelligent people as reality.

This is also true in the Biblical thinking of people today. In the book on heaven mentioned earlier. The author in a seeker sensitive moment admits that sitting on a cloud in heaven would be boring. He said that if I cannot appreciate heaven in my present state, then God would be wrong to create a place, I could not appreciate. He even stated that many people would not want to go to such a place. I am appalled by such a selfish, seeker sensitive attitude toward God’s plans. Maybe God should consult us as to what we desire, because obviously our generation knows best. Maybe the writer needs to examine the alternative of heaven with God forever. Such a statement is ludicrous; except we remember that today we read the Bible to improve it, so people can accept it through the seeker being pleased with what he hears.

The theory of evolution causes great diversity which becomes an invitation for every belief conception possible; thus, producing complexity confusing the truth so perfectly as to exalt folly. We are seeing the same in our Biblical approach to this new culture. We are becoming more complicated in our efforts to persuade men of God through contrived means exalting folly. The theories that accompany evolution are so myriad that they become purely fictional and absurd. This is true of our present Christianity.

We must understand that the future of our faith is dependent upon our own ability to send forth David’s to refute this complexity and go directly to the simplicity of the truth. The new ministers must be able to explain man’s purpose and existence apart from the explanations of pseudo science, secular psychological theories, and politically and religiously correct education.

We must have academically prepared David’s equipped with a Biblical model of man and capable of authoritatively and accurately propounding man’s propensities with credibility. Isolationism and insistence that the world hear us because we speak for God only energizes the developed world’s position and philosophy. Embracing elaborate schemes of invading cultures will not work either. It only obscures and halts the simple power of preaching the gospel.

We must recognize the enemy and direct the campaign to him. The enemy is a developed world system that believes Christians may speak of theology but not of anthropology. A world that believes pluralism, embracing and assimilating all culture, is the future It is a world that demands, even longs, that we limit our expression strictly to the world of theology within our limited groups, and the self-appointed guru’s of scientific or hybrid-cultural-“ization” salvation will define what that theological expression is.

This confusion is overwhelming today, but it’s roots reach back to the world of one hundred years ago. The world at the turn of the 20th Century laid the foundation for all that we see today. It was the beginning of the transition from the simple to the complex, thus the confusing. Now man is so overwhelmed with this confusion of absurdity that he can not accept the simple answer of Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Seeing the Future in the Past: Chapter 1

Chapter One – Preface

The Twenty-first Century Bible-believing church is groping like a blind man to find leadership with boldness that secures for it a continuance in a burgeoning secular society. The Post-modern world is what the think-tanks and enlightened call this burgeoning new world. The post-modern world is that world created after the explosive development of science, education, psychology, law, technology, pluralism, humanism and other elements of academia into the decisive elements driving and determining human direction and belief. Many Christians are writing about the role of the church and more will be written. To our harm it will not be practical or helpful to the true Bible-believing people, and it will not address the truth of the scripture in many cases. For the first time, in nearly 100 years, we are once again being asked to define our role in a new and increasingly hostile world which demands that the church speak only when spoken too.

Answers to this type of secular attack, for the modern church, range from the paranormal of the charismatic to the isolationism of what used to be called the fundamentalists. Today, those who are Bible-believing are distancing themselves from the term fundamentalist, because it is used of terrorist groups and extremist religionists who do not define us as Bible-believers in this new secular society. In this demanding, explosive secular world of the 21st century the church is out of touch, seemingly irrelevant; not because we don’t have a vital message; but because we have no effective method or vehicle to present our message.

For some Bible-believing people and churches this means wholesale change in order to embrace the Twenty-first Century, because we are made to feel that we are out of main-stream America.

Currently, necessity has become the mother of invention for the church. It is not uncommon for many to change the methods or strategies of ministry. Sadly, this is not enough for some; they want also to change the message by including enticements of wealth, health, how-to, or positive impacts.

The true Bible-believing church must not change the message. It is understood that there must be change, to boldly confront and reach a developing, burgeoning secular society. Sadly, change can mean diminishing the message. The church must embrace methods which do not diminish or change the message.

Today more of the radical methods are diminishing the message by diluting it with rank secularism, eastern occult, and worldliness. This reaction in message and methods is piloting the Church toward irrelevancy or total assimilation into the current world society.

Change or Update is Necessary, but must be Biblical

The faithful servant of God must always update preaching and methods. Those who minister must remain diligent to recognize the basic new world which confronts the ministry of God’s Word.

2 Tim 1:6-8
6 Wherefore I put thee in remembrance that thou stir up the gift of God, which is in thee by the putting on of my hands.
7 For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.
8 Be not thou therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me his prisoner: but be thou partaker of the afflictions of the gospel according to the power of God; (KJV)

Paul obviously recognized the importance of bringing back to flame the gifts of God in a person. In this passage, Paul used the concept of gifts differently than the concept of gifts of the Spirit. In stead of the gifts of the spirit, Paul refers to a gift when speaking of a person who can be married or single according to his gift from God.

1 Cor 7:7-9

7 For I would that all men were even as I myself. But every man hath his proper gift of God, one after this manner, and another after that.
8 I say therefore to the unmarried and widows, It is good for them if they abide even as I.
9 But if they cannot contain, let them marry: for it is better to marry than to burn. (KJV)

To Paul a gift could refer to a status that God has called one to embrace and maintain. In 2 Timothy 1:6-8, Paul is referring to gift in a similar fashion, a status or calling which one must embrace and maintain. The gift here is the status of having a calling to the ministry which has been recognized and confirmed by Paul and the presbytery which laid hands on him.

1 Tim 4:14
14 Neglect not the gift that is in thee, which was given thee by prophecy, with the laying on of the hands of the presbytery.(KJV)

If the ministry is to be effective, the minister of God must be aware of a need to rekindle his calling to the ministry. His ministry or calling must face a periodic stirring or bringing to life as one rekindles coals of fire. The need to stir our ministry can be accomplished by rekindling our preaching and methods in order to better face a new and more hostile world.

As the servant of God does this, he must remember that he is not at liberty to change the message. The message is God’s Word and settled in heaven. However, he must constantly make sure, that his zeal for the ministry given, and his knowledge that drives that ministry given is as current and relevant as possible, without demeaning or changing the message.

The hostility of this secular society should not discourage, but be a catalyst, literally stirring us to adjust and modernize our thinking for the sake of confronting a hostile system and reaching the people trapped in this system.

The Hostile Secular World

The hostility of this present day can be illustrated by a development in Oregon. The thought that a man dedicated to helping youth avoid alcoholism, cigarette addiction, drug addiction, sexual promiscuity, sexually transmitted disease, abortion, sexual perversion, suicide, suicidal rampage, and in general, the affects of a wasted life, would be told stay away from youth is absurd; or is it.

If you live in Oregon it is not absurd because that is exactly what is happening. According to a Reuters News Service article in 2000 written by Teresa Carson, the Molalla River School District has decided that Jason Rhoads, a Nazarene Church youth pastor, should not be allowed to eat lunch with young people at one of their schools. Ralph Gierke, school board chairman, said that the board would call police if necessary to stop the lunch visits by Rhoads. Indeed, they were true to their word because Gierke, another school official, and two police officers barred the minister from coming in.

When Rhoads was interviewed, he pointed out that his visits started two years ago while a real estate agent and not a youth pastor. He stated that his visits were prompted by the invitation of students, and he also stated that he did not preach, teach, or proselytize.

When the man is a realtor there is not problem with his presence on the school campus; but when that man becomes a youth pastor, he is unwelcome. Can a man who dedicates his life to the highest possible standards of conduct, morals, and purposes be dangerous to the welfare of youth? Obviously the answer is yes, if that man espouses a belief in God, our Lord Jesus Christ. Is this because of our message? Partially yes, the world fears our message, but they are able to practice this blatant discrimination because the Christians, as a whole, make themselves an easy target.

In April of 2008, I was recovering from surgery. I was reading a copy of the Florida Times Union (Friday April 18, 2008 Edition). An article, Corrections Worker Claims Persecution for belief (section A7), caught my attention. According to this article the corrections kitchen manager in Webb Correctional Facility was told to remove his Bible from his desk. He complied but is seeking legal recourse against the Delaware facility. He claims that other workers who are Islamic bring out prayer rugs and actually conduct prayer times during their shift.

Why is there such an obvious disparity of treatment and tolerance? Is it possible that a pluralistic society can accept all forms of religious expression except a Biblical form?

The degree to which this type of treatment is condoned and accepted in this hostile world is brazen. In January of 2008, at a “roast” for two sports broadcasters, a fellow broadcaster, in a drunken condition attacked the name of Jesus with such vulgarity that even the people present were embarrassed. This broadcaster was suspended by ESPN for one week.

In a related situation the same network had a similar incident in which they had to apologize for a comparison of fans to “Hitler” by columnist Jemele Hill concerning the 2008 NBA championship. ESPN wrote the following apology explanation.

"Both Jemele and apologize. The column, as originally posted, made some absolutely unacceptable comparisons. We've spoken with Jemele, and she understands that she exercised poor judgment. She's been relieved of her responsibilities for a period of time to reflect on the impact of her words. Within hours of its posting on Saturday evening, the inappropriate references were removed from the site, but our system of checks and balances failed Jemele and our readers and we are addressing that as well." Stating she was "relieved of her duties for a period of time" is a strange way of saying she was "suspended," but that's what this is. ESPN's most recent high-profile suspension was the one given to Dana Jacobson for her comments at the Mike and Mike roast. Jacobson got a week; no word on whether the ESPN brass considers Hill's offense to be better, worse or the same.

The final statement is very serious. Do the main-stream media sources of 2008 even view their bias as bias? The suspension time is not published by ESPN.

In a development less than 30 days after Jacobson’s comments about Christ, a newscaster questioned Hillary Clinton’s use of her daughter in her bid for the nomination of the Democratic Party for the presidency. He said that Hillary Clinton might be “pimping out” her daughter by using her to speak to certain groups. The newscaster was suspended indefinitely.

The obvious conclusion is that the disparaging remarks against Christ are acceptable and tolerated, but the disparaging statement against Chelsea Clinton is not tolerated and calls for severe action immediately. The remarks against Christ were not even covered by the major media.

Are we so out of touch with the secular man, that the Church has lost all impact on the conventional elements of the United States? Are we so irrelevant? How has it happened that a profile of a dangerous would-be cultist, gun-toting subversive includes a belief in the Book of Revelation? Racial profiles are considered racist; would religious profiles not be bigoted? Would it not be better to profile a would-be cultist, gun-toting subversive as one fixated on the prospects of the end of the world rather than a belief in a particular book of the Bible? Why must the Bible and those who believe it be maligned? The obvious answer is that the Book of Revelation is viewed by those who are in positions of authority as a potential catalyst for subversive action; and our methods do not clear that image.

The realty is that these anti-social isolationists do not teach the Book of Revelation; they simply have a paranoid, domination mentality causing a preoccupation with doom spawned by injustice, social ills, government distrust, and sometimes mental deficiency. But to say, that their behavior stems from a belief originated or fueled by the reading of the Book of Revelation is non-sequitur and absurd, to say the least.

Millions upon millions have read the Book of Revelation and have never become maniacal sadists. This kind of reasoning would not be tolerated with regard to alcohol. To assume that the close proximity or moderate consumption of alcohol leads to great evil would be soundly rejected by those who consume alcohol. They would argue that proximity and consumption do not lead to evil. By the same token, a person who has a passing knowledge of Revelation, has read it on occasion, or has quoted from its contents at different times does not justify associating a belief in the Book of Revelation with the cause of that person’s evil. Elements of influence such as movies, television, rap music, and rock music would not be given this broad-brush approach as to their influence for evil. Obviously bias must play a strong role, a bias which comes from a developed world with an inadequate challenge from the Christian.

While listening to a radio program in my community, I was overwhelmed by a talk show host who made disparaging remarks about those who believed the teachings in the Book of Revelation. I quickly called the station and requested a copy of the program tape so that I could play it in one of our services. I explained that I wanted to inform our people of how our church was perceived and portrayed by their radio station. Shortly, the talk show host was apologizing for his comments on the air. Shortly thereafter, he no longer had a show on that radio station. How can it be that a local radio personality feels so free to attack Bible believing churches?

The estrangement of the Church is even more far-reaching. It has become necessary recently to have a law passed which gives churches relief from religious discrimination. The law is called the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act. What does this law actually make possible? It makes possible the redress of issues created by zoning authorities who intentionally or unintentionally violate religious assemblies’ rights to establish churches or use their properties. However, the religious assemblies must now prove such discrimination. The religious assembly must demonstrate exactly how the zoning law substantially burdens sincere religious exercise. The claim of discrimination can be disallowed, even if the burden is proven, should the government be able to prove that the burden is unavoidable; because it is the result of a compelling governmental objective.

This is one of the most serious issues facing the church because the church must build buildings and house people for education, worship, and service. If the right to freely pursue use of buildings, use of property, and construction of buildings is greatly limited then the church is limited in the scope of its ministry or even denied the right to minister.

One such incident of this type of discrimination was brought to my attention by a letter that I received with a copy of a cease and desist order. This order required a young couple in Denver to stop holding prayer meetings in their home because it violated the laws of Denver, Colorado. The couple was instructed that they could only hold one prayer meeting a month in their home. This law was not applied to Tupperware parties, book study groups, or other similar activities.

Most Churches are started by regular meetings in homes, which eventually grow requiring a church building. In effect, the city of Denver zoning laws prevented the free exercise of religion and more importantly the establishing of churches unless the church can build meeting places approved by the zoning board. In fact, churches are zoned out of general life in the modern world. This world wants to disallow any churches from being in close proximity to families and general locations of life. This is a serious burden on the exercise of religion by a fledgling church.

Instances of such discrimination are so high that an entire chapter could be devoted to this type of limitation of the practice of religion. Examples include restriction of times in which a church may be open, even to the restriction of types of ministries allowed on the church property. This is certainly a burden to the exercise of religion.

The potential for interference by constitutional interpretation, government regulation, court room procedure, or litigation introduced by well meaning appointed officials, elected officials, or angry skeptics is great. We of the Church are in danger because we do not understand the secularist of the 21st Century. We are totally unprepared to face the 21st Century with an adequate paradigm or adequate stratagems, which would make us comfortable in a society escalating its hostility level and lowering its tolerance levels toward Christians. The homosexual, the drunkard, and the violent generally have more sympathy for their cause, more tolerance; than do we who insist that Jesus is the unique Son of God in whom is salvation.

We are overwhelmed by the new cultural revolutions of tolerance and diversity swelling before us like a mighty wave with the potential to wash away our moorings. The hallowed words in modern secular paradigm for cultural development are tolerance and diversity. In truth, there is no more tolerant or diverse organization than the church of God. The Church combines men and women from every nation, tongue, and race. The Church is made of the rich, the middle class and the poor. The educational and vocational backgrounds are as diverse as the developed world itself. All have one unifying factor, not race which divides, not economics which divides, and not birth place which divides; but the blood of Christ which unites us all as one. It is this that for centuries has caused people all over the world to be unified.

Unfortunately, the modern secular paradigm does not mean this “out of many, one” tolerance. Tolerance is not allowing people to have their beliefs, culture, and habits guarded from interference by government or bigotry; but it is the requirement of those who have non-public opinion, opposing lifestyles to divest themselves of their beliefs, culture, and habits. Diversity is accepting anyone for any reason and including them in your values system regardless of whether they are diametrically opposed to your values. Any belief that condemns man as a sinner or worthy of punishment is divisive because it is judgmental. Expressing judgmental opinions is not tolerant. Judgmental beliefs are not uniting all diverse cultures. It would be better to be a sexual pervert than to be judgmental. Our Biblical ideas are obscene to those who espouse the pseudo-tolerance and pseudo-diversity.

We who believe the Bible are facing a difficult generation that wishes to purge what they consider judgmental Biblical thought, principles, and absolutes from the face of this Cultural Revolution. The Biblical thought is centered in one personal savior not a plethora of saviors. The Biblical principle is that there are not many ways to God, but one. The Biblical absolute is that there is “no other name under heaven given among men whereby we must be saved.” Does this make us divisive? Does this make us out of touch with 21st century America? Does this make us a part of the problem, and no one sees that we are the solution?

Are we the modern day religious extremist capable of killing abortion doctors because we are unhappy about abortion? Are we the modern day religious extremist that abuses women and children with demands of physical actions which demean them, subjugate them, or even bring death or mutilation; because we ask that principles of Biblical responsibility in the home be taught? Are we the modern day religious extremists that would practice compound isolationism because we believe that the Christian should be separate from secular mankind? Are we the modern day religious extremist that would deliberately practice terrorism by causing the death of a few or of thousands, because we believe that there are those who will go to hell and that they are an enemy of Christ? Certainly the developed world is ready to label us as such.

We also must face mainline religious organizations that by ignorance, purpose, or by foolishness bring reproach on the name of Christ by harboring deviants, or imposing practices which when brought to light are an embarrassment. The most recent example of this is the scandal that has shaken the Catholic Church.

Are we viewed just as the militant Islamic and the various factions that advocate and execute revenge slayings by suicide bombers? No matter how different we are as Christians the undifferentiating media and secularist sees all Christians as being radical extremists or as hypocrites.

The Bible is explicit that the Church is not going to win a decisive battle over a bias secularized developed world in which the Church is a sojourner. We are not here to defeat the already vanquished secularized world. Our role is much different. It is the duty of the Church to occupy until the Lord returns preaching and teaching the gospel of his kingdom; therefore, the Church must produce a paradigm and stratagems for occupying.

There are basic areas which we must examine in order to properly create a paradigm capable of producing adequate stratagems. The church ministry in the United States, church missions around the world, the present accepted wisdom of man, and post-secondary training for future leaders.

If the Church is to answer secularism and not repeat the mistakes of the 20th Century, it must do three things. The church must develop educational strategies through the educational systems that it supports; it must develop the church ministries that reach the disjointed, diversified populace; and a mission’s outreach that recognizes the changing world in order to produce Christians that understand their roles.